Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain” as Want to Read:
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

by
3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,066 Ratings  ·  1,104 Reviews

If the conscious mind—the part you consider you—accounts for only a tiny fraction of the brain’s function, what is all the rest doing? This is the question that David Eagleman—renowned neuroscientist and acclaimed author of Sum—answers in a book as accessible and entertaining as it is deeply informed by startling, up-to-the-minute research.

Our behavior, thoughts, and expe

...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 31st 2011 by Pantheon (first published 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Incognito, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Incognito

What's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective ... by Martha Char LoveIncognito by David EaglemanThe Believing Brain by Michael ShermerThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver SacksConsciousness in Four Dimensions by Richard M. Pico
The Brain
2nd out of 29 books — 28 voters
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only
217th out of 993 books — 2,416 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Robyn
Aug 15, 2011 Robyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let me start with the easy stuff. On a literary note, this book is entertaining. However, it reads more like a series of interesting essays on neuroscience rather than a book.

Let me move on to the more interesting stuff. This book is deceptive. Eagleman uses a "slight of hand" writing style. Just as he describes how magic tricks deceive the brain, Eagleman uses this entertaining little book to advocate for a social and justice system that disregards civil rights.

How does he do this? He strings
...more
Special K
Jun 01, 2011 Special K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, science
*I am required to disclose that I received this book as a freebie from the Goodreads first reads giveaway program, but don't worry, this doesn't obligate me to say only good things.

Though I give the book four stars and have already recommended it to more people than any book I've ever read, I would strongly disagree with the first reviewer that the book is an "engaging romp" or "fun".
The book is, and should be, profoundly unsettling, though for reasons which make it all the more important to con
...more
Carolyn Lane
Jun 08, 2012 Carolyn Lane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Neuroscientists need to be pretty smart people. Even smarter is the neuroscientist who can produce writing which is attractive and appealing to our less-informed minds. David Eagleman can.

Incognito is a wide-ranging and entertaining look at the development of our thinking about thinking, and the current state of brain-science. He covers
• how and why we have practically no conscious knowledge of what’s going on in the incredibly complex machinery of our brains, and why the “chief executive” (ou
...more
Trevor
Apr 02, 2012 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, psychology
This was a much better book than I thought it was going to be and a much better book than you might think from even flicking through it. You know, there are cartoons and while this isn't a guaranteed sign that things will be bad, it is the next best thing to a guarantee.

And I listened to this as a talking book - and the author reads the book. This, too, is generally a mistake. But he did a reasonable job even here, although, to be honest, I think he would have been better served with a professio
...more
Lis
Jun 30, 2011 Lis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Another hard one to review. If I were going by the first few chapters, it would have been not only five stars, but one of my personal 'Best Books of 2011'. However, in the last two thirds the content took a nose dive into absurdity. The author first attempts to prove that we have no free will, because much of our behavior is ruled by the subconscious. Um...last time I checked, my subconscious was still *me*. Then, the author puts forward a case that because criminals do bad things, they are clea ...more
M0rningstar
May 21, 2011 M0rningstar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Ever land on a question in the Never-Ending Book Quiz about a book that you've read but remember very little of? Ever find that, despite drawing a blank on the multiple choice answers, you usually get it right if you just go with the first choice that pops into your head? Ever wonder why? Then this book is for you.

Incognito is an engaging and eye-opening romp through fundamental questions related to human consciousness, perception, and free will, as seen through the lens of neuroscientific resea
...more
Taylor
Jun 24, 2011 Taylor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the same-old, same-old (if you've ever read a book about the brain) for the first 75%, and then some new stuff about how neuroscience can and should change the criminal justice system in the last part. I did like this comparison: finding out that we don't have as much control over ourselves as we thought we did is like astronomers discovering that the earth was not the center of the universe. It shouldn't depress us; it should invigorate further study. Not too much to apply to teaching in t ...more
Kathryn
This was very enlightening - and I don’t think I’ll be able to think the same way about driving, or making choices, or anything I do or think again! I’ve mentioned this book in several conversations I’ve had with people recently, but now that I’m sitting down to write a review, I’m not sure that I can actually put my finger on exactly what I liked about this book - there was so much to take in, that a brief review can hardly do it justice.

Some of the things I thought were especially interesting
...more
Jaylia3
Apr 04, 2011 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it
This very interesting and thought provoking book by neuroscientist David Eagleman is a little disorienting. After all, based on the numerous observations and scientific experiments he details Eagleman’s conclusion is that we have no freewill. I may think I am considering options, making decisions, and choosing, for instance, what book to read, but according to scientists who study these things I am not in charge, if by “I” what I mean is the “I” that I know--my conscious mind. It’s not surprisin ...more
Myth
Feb 11, 2013 Myth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Disclaimer: I have not actually finished this book and do not know if I will.

As someone who's very interested in neurology this book does have it's good moments, but they're largely eclipsed by a bunch of dumbing down.

I don't blame Eagleman, I know it's people in the publishing industry who probably pushed this book to be like this. Following is my reaction to each element I found annoying. There's a summary at the end.

Dumbing it down: Too much repetition and unnecessary metaphors. I do not kn
...more
Vegantrav
Jun 20, 2011 Vegantrav rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you believe in libertarian free will or Cartesian dualism? If so, David Eagleman’s Incognito will radically challenge your beliefs.

Incognito is probably the best work of nonfiction that I have read this year (2011), and it is also one of the best books on neuroscience that I have read in quite some time. Some of the material here has been presented elsewhere (if you have read works on neuroscience or consciousness by scientists and philosophers like Antonio Damasio, V. S. Ramachandran, Joseph
...more
د.أمجد الجنباز
كتاب جميل جدا، يطرح فكرة جديدة عن كيفية عمل الدماغ بشكل خارج عن ارادتنا

بالرغم من ان هذه الفكرة موجودة في كتب أخرى، لكن الكتاب بكامله يتمحور حول ذلك.

من الامثلة المذكورة
كيف يتحول مرضى بارنكنسون الذين يتعالجون بالأدوية إلى مدمنين على المقامرة
كيف يتسبب ورم صغير بالدماغ إلى تحويل الشخص إلى مجرم، أو حتى تغيير رغبته الجنسية وتحويله إلى متحرش بالأطفال

وهنا يخرج المؤلف بنتيجة مرعبة
وهي أننا لسنا مسؤلين عن الغالبية العظمى من من سلوكنا
وانما هي بسبب دماغنا، الذي جاءنا بالوراثة

وهنا يطرح قضية خطيرة في النهاية
...more
Martha Love
Dec 22, 2015 Martha Love rated it it was amazing
Eagleman raises more questions about the human condition than answers and I find this delightful. I am giving this book a 5 star rating because I think he did a superior job of citing and giving his opinions of the research in neuroscience at the time of the writing of it and because he intrigues my own mind to explore his ideas further.

I particularly like what Eagleman has to say about the enteric nervous system and it's importance as an example of running as a human system that is not regulat
...more
Egypt Scholars Scholars
كتابنا لهذا اليوم لعالم الأعصاب ديفد إيجلمان، و هو بعنوان:

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

و هو رحلةٌ حقيقيةٌ مليئةٌ بالتشويق و الإثارة يسبر فيها الكاتب أغوار الدماغ و يتجول بين جنبات و ثنايا المخ و يغوص في بحر أسراره المدهشة.

يقرر الكاتب في أول صفحة من الكتاب أن مخ الإنسان - الذي لا يتجاوز وزنه الكيلو و النصف- يعد أعقد و أعجب و أغرب كيان تم اكتشافه في الكون، و يبرر الكاتب هذا الوصف بما في المخ من بناء متراكب معقد يتألف من ملايين ملايين الخلايا و العقد و الروابط العصبية.

و بعد عرض مختصر ل
...more
keith koenigsberg
The first downfall of this book is, it is Malcolm Gladwellian in construction. The author pulls in anecdotes and creates his own analogies from "common sense" to make his point. After a while, you get the sense that he is just using the stories and studies which suit his purposes, and leaving the rest out. Very anecdotal. A quick look online and I found a few of his scientific assertions to be half-truths at best. What a shame.

The second downfall is that the author isn't half the writer that Mal
...more
Fernando del Alamo
Jun 26, 2015 Fernando del Alamo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Libro maravilloso. Explica que nuestro cerebro trabaja a diferentes niveles y el consciente no es el principal. Al decir esto, entra en juego lo que es el libre albedrío. Si realmente nuestro cerebro hace muchas cosas en segundo plano de las que ni nos enteramos, ¿cómo podemos estar seguros de que todos nuestros comportamientos son racionales y razondos?

El autor nos da muchos ejemplos en los que la gente no actúa como debería, cómo los medicamentos, los casos de enfermedades en el cerebro o el c
...more
Kalin
Jan 20, 2015 Kalin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
29 Оct 2014: Just finished editing the Bulgarian translation. My inner selves--as is their wont at the end of a road--are still in a jumble. A more coherent review coming soon. ;)

What I'd like to note right now is: this is another book I highly recommend to scientists and laymen alike. If you've ever struggled with questions such as "Telepathy? What do you mean, reading my mind? Am I supposed to have only one of them?" or "So who is the real me? The one who passionately believes in ahimsa and no
...more
Dennis
Jul 03, 2013 Dennis rated it liked it
Shelves: science-religion
I was disappointed. I had expected more hard science and more detailed medical and biological evidence. The author chose to stay with big ideas such as the inability of persons with certain medical conditions to control their behavior. The primary hard evidence that he gives against the proposition that we have free will is the Libet experiments from the 1970's. These experiments show that brain potentials rise before we are consciously aware of them and that our responses are likely the result ...more
Book
Mar 16, 2013 Book rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: neuroscience
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

"Incognito" is a fascinating look into our brain and the secrets that it reveals. It's a wonderful book that covers recent findings of mainly the unconscious processes of our brains. Neuroscientist and best-selling author, David Eagleman takes the reader on a journey of discovery of our brains; an enjoyable and enlightening ride that makes the young field of neuroscience fun and informative. This instructive 304-page book is composed of
...more
John
Jun 23, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
Imagine a person riding an elephant, nudging it along and sometimes unable to stop the movement and direction of the elephant. Who is the stronger of the two? The elephant. Can the rider direct the elephant? Sometimes. Some people analogize the conscious mind to that rider and the unconscious mind to the elephant.

Incognito states this concept more elegantly, "Your consciousness is like a tiny stowaway on a transatlantic steamship, taking credit for the journey without acknowledging the massive e
...more
Janice
Aug 07, 2011 Janice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, engrossing book. Just a smattering of stuff I learned: People more often get married to others with the same first letter of their first name than would be expected by chance. (It's called implicit egotism.) Women's cycles don't really become synchronized when they live together, sorry, sitcom writers. The illusion-of-truth effect means you're more likely to believe that a statement is true if you've heard it before, even if you're told the statement is false. Julian Jaynes' 1976 th ...more
Loy Machedo
Sep 02, 2012 Loy Machedo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Incognito by David Eagleman

1. Why does your foot hit the break pedal before you are conscious of danger ahead?
2. Why do you hear your name in a conversation that you didn’t think you were listening to?
3. Why is a person whose name begins with J more likely to marry another person whose name begins with J?
4. Why is it so difficult to keep a secret?
5. How is it possible to get angry at yourself: who, exactly is mad at whom?
6. Are some marriage partners more likely to ch
...more
Lynne King
Jan 20, 2013 Lynne King rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disappointed
I'm fascinated with anything to do with the brain and this was recommended to me. So when I saw all the reviews and that it was a New York Times best seller, I thought this has got to be good and immediately ordered the book.

I soon discovered I just didn't like the style of writing, the way in which the subject was explained, skim-read looking for something really good to catch my interest, found very little, and sailed through to the end of the book at page 254.

What did interest me though were
...more
Derek
Apr 27, 2013 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was excellent. I thought it was well written, left out a lot of advanced topics and medical terminology for parts of the brain and really explained what's going on.

I feel there is a lot of basic psychology information in this book, but none of it I was familiar with. I was able to read and understand every page of this book, and I even had moments of goosebumps and laughter when it brought certain things to my attention that I thought about but could never really ponder it. This explai
...more
Baymavi
May 12, 2015 Baymavi rated it it was amazing
Kitabın son bölümünü henüz okumamış olmama rağmen notumu veriyorum. Yıldızın değerli bir simge olarak kabul gördüğü Goodreads dünyasında Incognito'ya benden 5 yıldız. Kitabı yarın bitireceğim. Son bölüm, eksik kaldığını düşündüğüm yerleri tamamlayamayacak, biliyorum. Ama bu, kitabın ya da yazarın yetersizliğinden değil mevcut bilginin eksikliğinden kaynaklanıyor. Maalesef bu devirde yaşıyoruz, ve kümülatif bilginin bizi getirdiği yer burası. 200 ya da bin yıl sonrasında her şey çok daha iyi anla ...more
Marc Kozak
Jul 17, 2013 Marc Kozak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marc by: NPR
Shelves: bill-nye
Did I really have any choice in writing this review? Was I always going to?

Is there something embedded in my genes that determined I would not only enjoy the act of reading books, but be tremendously curious how about my brain works as well? What aspects of my childhood environment played a subtle part in shaping my introspective being, leading me to ponder what it means to have a consciousness? How much of the act of typing these letters is under my conscious control, and are there parts of my
...more
Michael
Sep 06, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
David Eagleman's Incognito sets itself as a book which attempts to illuminate the unconscious workings of the inner mind, how perceptions form the world around us and the underpinnings of perception itself. Given Eagleman's background and current scientific status as an active researcher in the science of vision and perception I had expected a book much like Jospeh LeDoux's Synaptic Self; that is a book which gives not only a thorough historical perspective of the subject but a strong explanatio ...more
Cheryl Gatling
The more I read this book, the less I liked it. He starts out by talking about how many brain processes function automatically, without our conscious self being aware of it, or having control over it. I enjoyed reading the summaries of interesting research studies, and the tales of people who were brain-damaged in different ways. But all of this leads up to a discussion of how we should reform the justice system. He writes, and I quote, that "criminals should always be treated as incapable of ha ...more
Gendou
Apr 13, 2013 Gendou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, biology
This book starts off with a really poor introduction. Poor, because it tries too hard, is hyperbolic, and contains two glaring errors!

More on those later. The book runs the gambit of freshman-level psychology with the Freud, the subconscious, chicken sexing (not as dirty as it sounds), priming, synesthesia, etc. It introduces a theory of mind based on a team of rivals, which is pretty neat.

The author puts in his two cents on the justice system. He calls for less emphasis on modifiability rather
...more
Megan
Oct 09, 2011 Megan rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, science
The first half of the book was fascinating, and I found myself telling everyone about it as I was reading. It is an interesting notion to think that we really have no control over many things we attribute to free will.

I found, though, that the chapter on culpability in relation to crime rubbed me the wrong way, somehow. He built his theories up to the point where it seemed as though he wanted to take any responsibility for anything we do away from us, attibuting every bad action to neurological
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Book Nerds: Sept/Oct Book Selection 5 8 Nov 11, 2014 02:54PM  
  • Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives
  • The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human
  • The Ego Trick: In Search Of The Self
  • Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain
  • The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science
  • Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain
  • The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life
  • The Self Illusion: Why There is No 'You' Inside Your Head [Extract]
  • Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are
  • Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are
  • The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive
  • Out of Character: Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us
  • Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions
  • The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka,  Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
  • The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives
  • The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force
  • The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain
  • The Mind's Eye
2883386
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist, a New York Times bestselling author, and a Guggenheim Fellow. During the day he runs a neuroscience research laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. At night he writes. His books have been translated into 23 languages.
More about David Eagleman...

Share This Book



“Imagine for a moment that we are nothing but the product of billions of years of molecules coming together and ratcheting up through natural selection, that we are composed only of highways of fluids and chemicals sliding along roadways within billions of dancing cells, that trillions of synaptic conversations hum in parallel, that this vast egglike fabric of micron-thin circuitry runs algorithms undreamt of in modern science, and that these neural programs give rise to our decision making, loves, desires, fears, and aspirations. To me, that understanding would be a numinous experience, better than anything ever proposed in anyone's holy text.” 42 likes
“Instead of reality being passively recorded by the brain, it is actively constructed by it.” 26 likes
More quotes…